The Shortlist
  1. 1
    Morbi nunc odi
    Ellen Wilkinson
    Middlesbrough's first and so far only female MP who campaigned on behalf of the poor and working people.
    Read more about Ellen
  2. 2
    Morbi nunc odi
    Viva Talbot
    Artist who used woodblock prints to depict images of Teesside steelmaking.
    Read more about Viva
  3. 3
    Morbi nunc odi
    Mary Jaques
    A nurse who funded and opened Middlesbrough's first cottage hospital.
    Read more about Mary
  4. 4
    Morbi nunc odi
    Alice Schofield Coates
    Suffragist and Middlesbrough's first female Councillor.
    Read more about Alice
  5. 5
    Morbi nunc odi
    Gertrude Bell
    Academic, archaeologist, explorer, linguist and a renowned mountaineer. Gertrude Bell drew the borders of modern Iraq.
    Read more about Gertrude
  6. 6
    Morbi nunc odi
    Marion Coates Hansen
    Suffragist campaigner and the second ever female councillor elected in Middlesbrough.
    Read more about Marion
Read more about Ellen
Read more about Viva
Read more about Mary
Read more about Alice
Read more about Gertrude
Read more about Marion
Ellen Wilkinson
Ellen was born in 1891 in Manchester and studied History at Manchester University. She went on to work for suffrage societies and the Shop Workers’ Union.

She was elected Labour MP for Middlesbrough East in 1924, serving until 1931. In 1925 her campaigning saw the Government amend anomalies adversely affecting widows in its Pension Bill.

She returned to Parliament in 1935 representing Jarrow and leading the Hunger Marches. In 1945, she became the first female Education Secretary, introducing free milk and school meals.

A prolific writer, Ellen wrote ‘Clash’ – a fictional account of Middlesbrough during the 1926 General Strike; as well as pen portraits and political literature.
  
Viva Talbot
Born in 1900, Viva was the daughter of Benjamin Talbot, the inventor of the Talbot tilting furnace and managing director of Cargo Fleet Iron Company Ltd and South Durham Steel & Iron Company Ltd.

Despite having no formal training, Viva created hundreds of woodblock prints depicting images of Teesside steelmaking. Fifteen of her prints feature in the ‘Steel Making’ album.

As well as being a talented artist, Viva was a gifted contralto singer of German Lieder. During the 1920s and 1930s she travelled extensively to participate in the Salzburg Festival as well as to Italy and America. From 1913-1941 Viva lived at Solberge Hall, near Northallerton.
  
Mary Jaques
  
Sister Mary Jaques trained at Kaiserworth Hospital in Germany, where Florence Nightingale worked.

On 14 June 1858, an explosion at Snowdon & Hopkins Ironworks killed two men and injured 12. The nearest infirmary was in Newcastle.

Mary Jaques provided funds of £181 for the purchase of two cottages – 46 and 48 Dundas Mews, in Middlesbrough, creating the town’s first cottage hospital.

The hospital officially opened on 7 March 1859, although Sister Mary had already admitted the first patient before the doors officially opened.
    
Alice Schofield Coates
  
Alice was born in Middlesbrough in 1881 but moved to Manchester at an early age, before returning to her home town.

She joined the Women’s Social & Political Union in 1904, breaking away in 1907 to help found the Women’s Freedom League.

She was elected to Middlesbrough Council for Ayresome Ward in 1919 – the first woman on the Council. She represented the Ayresome Ward on Middlesbrough Council from 1919 to 1922 and up to 1926 she was a Grove Hill Ward representative.
She opened Middlesbrough’s first vegetarian restaurant on Linthorpe Road.

Alice spent her final years at Levick House on Cambridge Road and died in 1975 aged 93.
      
Gertrude Bell
Gertrude Bell was born in 1868 in County Durham and in 1886 went to Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford where she became the first woman to earn a first class degree in Modern History.

She was an archaeologist, explorer, linguist and a renowned mountaineer – she famously survived more than 50 hours on a rope on the unclimbed north east face of the Finsteraarhorn.

In 1921 in Baghdad she drew the boundaries of the country that became Iraq.
She was the daughter of steel magnate Sir Hugh Bell and was the subject of the Hollywood film ‘Queen of the Desert’ starring Nicole Kidman.
  
      
Marion Coates Hansen
 Marion was born in 1870 and was a member of the Women’s Social & Political
 Union. She was later a founding member of the Women’s Freedom League.

Her sister in law was leading suffragist and first female councillor, Alice Schofield Coates.

Marion was the second female councillor in Middlesbrough. She was elected two weeks after Alice and represented Exchange Ward. As a councillor, Marion was keenly interested in housing reform.

In 1906, Marion was the election agent for the future Labour Leader, George Lansbury, and she is credited wth influencing him to take up the cause for votes for women.